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Vivent Health KC food pantry seeing increase in those needing help

Food Pantry Need
Posted at 10:24 PM, Oct 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-11 23:24:05-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Vivent Health helps care for people across the country battling HIV.

The group says their food pantries have seen a huge increase in demand.

Workers filled nearly eight-thousand grocery orders in Missouri for people with HIV.

"The numbers each month, each week, are on the increase," said Caroline Huffman, vice president of operations for Vivent Health Kansas City.

She says staff at the local food pantry are seeing demand up 30%.

"The staff that are a part of this,"Huffman said. "I call them the heart and soul of the pantry."

​Nicholas Clark, the food pantry coordinator, is a part of that heart and soul.

​"That's something I feel hailed by as a human being and as an employee here," Clark said. "I mean it's very powerful to know that you are what's standing in between somebody going hungry."

He's one of the first faces people see when they come to the pantry and for some, he's their sole provider of food for the week.

"It's a reflection of what's going on," he said. "Surging inflation and the cost of food prices and gas and people just that kind of economic context people are really struggling to get their basic needs met."

They count on Clark and the rest of the staff because many people with HIV may also be experiencing homelessness or have financial or medical problems.

"We believe food is medicine," Clark said. "You have the power to heal with food."